Secondborn were originally only supposed to be a one-time recording project but their first EP, A Call to Arms, did well enough that the members decided to come together as a band and record a second release. Symbols, Secondborn’s second effort, will release later this month and sees the band changing styles quite a bit from A Call to Arms. The first single from Symbols, “When Lions Dream,” is a good example of where this newly vetted band seems to be headed sound-wise.
A Call to Arms showcased the guitar skills of Patrick Trumps, Stefan Hawkins and Tim Benson, and while their sound was largely pop punk on this first effort, the quality of these guitars and the way the songs were put together made it seem as though the band could do more musically. On Symbols is seems Secondborn are still experimenting with styles and formats, but the direction it looks as though they want to be turining to is more emo/shoegaze in nature, but still with a good rock base. Think Rise Against or 30 Seconds to Mars for comparison. While the transition to their new style may not be complete on Symbols, the band are certainly getting there and “When Lions Dream” seems like a good starting point.
“When Lions Dream” opens with the high-quality guitars we have come to expect from Secondborn. They sound much less punk and more chime-like and shoegazer in nature than in A Call to Arms. The rhythm guitar still has a bit of punk backing but the drums from Lee Gauthreaux are more metal in nature. Daniel Pinner’s vocals unfortunately don’t quite rise to the level of quality involved in the new style; in some parts they work well with the music but in others, like when he goes into a higher register or tries to sing louder, his voice devlops a raspy, strained quality which doesn’t quite mesh with the clean, polished guitars. A little more vocal training, though, and he’ll probably get it.
Another slight misplacement on “When Lions Dream” is with the synthesizers. It stands to reason that with the band’s new style, they might want to bring in an electronic element to make this shoegazey sound a little more modern, but it would seem that composition-wise the band aren’t quite sure where to put them. In this song they seem to come in a bit too late, as if out of nowhere, and then disappear again. If Secondborn are going to employ Tim Benson’s synths, they would do well to make them more of a feature to their music or at the very least keep them as a backing or ornamental element throughout the song, not just for a few bars.
Overall, “When Lions Dream” is a pretty solid first single off of Symbols. All the elements for a good shoegaze/indie metal band are there for Seconborn, they just need to tweak a few things and they will be on their way. If Pinner could get some vocal coaching, that would help all the parts match, and the synths will eventually find their proper home within the bands new style. Symbols will release in full later this month, but in the meantime “When Lions Dream” is on the band’s Soundcloud page for streaming along with Sceondborn’s first EP.